Dad of the Year Changes Pronouns in The Wind Waker for his Daughter

A screenshot from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker showing Link holding a sword up high with the caption ‘On a certain island, the custom is to dress young girls in green as they come of age.’

Mike Hoye has been playing through The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker with his daughter Maya and got tired of making the pronoun translations on the fly while reading the game’s text aloud to her.  This was the motivation for creating a mod for the game that will automatically change all the pronouns to female.

It’s annoying and awkward, to put it mildly, having to do gender-translation on the fly when Maya asks me to read what it says on the screen. You can pick your character’s name, of course – I always stick with Link, being a traditionalist – but all of the dialog insists that Link is a boy, and there’s apparently nothing to be done about it.

Well, there wasn’t anything to be done about it, certainly not anything easy, but as you might imagine I’m not having my daughter growing up thinking girls don’t get to be the hero and rescue their little brothers.

There definitely aren’t enough games for young girls to play where they can do something truly heroic.   Tom Abernathy from Microsoft Game Studios noticed the same thing while his daughter was yearning for more games to play.

This is a pretty complicated mod to get set up and working, so I’m not recommending you all go out and try playing his version of the game unless you have a lot of time on your hands.  But I still wanted to give kudos to a dad who recognizes that little girls want to be heroic and that it’s not aspirational to play male characters all the time.

(Via Flip all the Pronouns)

About Tami Baribeau

Lead Editor and co-founder of The Border House, feminist, gamer, lover of social media, technology, and virtual worlds. Pansexual, equestrian, dog lover, social game studio director and producer. Email me here and follow me on Twitter!
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15 Responses to Dad of the Year Changes Pronouns in The Wind Waker for his Daughter

  1. Momiji says:

    I think this is a cool thing of him to do. I’m actually head-canoning Link as a young woman while playing Skyward Sword at the moment. I’m not sure if it will work perfectly, but since I’m playing the Japanese editions there aren’t really any pronouns to begin with.

  2. Kimiko says:

    W00t! Way to go Dad Hoye :)

    Did Zelda become a prince as well? That’d be harder to pull off, considering gendered clothing.

    Reminds me of the time I edited a translation of the Tao Te Ching to change all the pronouns from male to female.

  3. GarrickW says:

    I originally saw this article over at Ars Technica, and was hoping to find it here, too. I think it’s great that this dad went and did this! If I ever have a daughter, I really hope I won’t have to do that to make, but at the same time, if need be, I really hope I *can*.

    What I don’t like – what I hate – is the kind of exclusive comments that quickly flooded the post over at Ars Technica. There were cries of censorship, calls for respecting artistic integrity, and all sorts of other crap arguments that only get pulled when inclusivity is at issue.

    At least, now, I can go downvote all those atrocious comments. Small comfort.

    • Matt says:

      I haven’t read the comments, but decrying a game mod for “artistic” “integrity” is something that, as a lifelong modder I have trouble accepting as anything but a bad faith excuse to hate on this project.

      At best, it reveals that they think that the gender of the protag is a vital part of the work’s “integrity” which says a lot about the commenter, none of it good.

      Now, that said, and having gone through a few of them, it was totally worth it to read this:

      My children both LOVE Zelda. For Halloween my 3-year-old son dressed up as Link (as depicted in Wind Waker) but even though she plays the game herself now (as link of course) my 7-year-old daughter didn’t want to be Zelda and didn’t choose to be Link. She was a bat and pretended to be a “keese” in order to play together (even tossing him little hearts or rupees when she “died”).

  4. KA101 says:

    No idea how one makes a mod for what I think is a CD-based game, but good job on it just the same. (The possibility of doing this to other games might be one benefit of the PS3-cracking I’d heard about last week or so?)

    • snail says:

      The ars technica piece goes into some technical details. It involves getting a copy of the data on the gamecube disc onto your hard drive and then editing it and playing it in an emulator.

      Without getting too technical about it, I know that on cracked PSPs there is a way to run patches for translations or to fix slowdowns. I imagine the way to do it on a cracked PS3 is quite similar – to an end-user it’s as simple as putting the patch files into a directory. Then when you run the game it patches in-memory, without having to alter the data on the disc. So yes, doing this to other games would be one benefit to PS3-cracking.

    • Ashera says:

      From the description in his blog, it looks like he modified a ripped game dump that he runs on an emulator. So it’s not that it “automatically detects” pronouns, he actually edited the stored text in the game so his version refers to Link as female.

      • Alex says:

        Yes! It was such a cool detail to me that because he was changing the hex code all the replacement words had to be the exact length. A bit more complicated than just going in and changing all the terms. What a project!

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  6. Ashera says:

    There’s a great interview with the Dad in question at the Geek Feminism blog:

  7. Ari says:

    Sort of telling that a number of the comments on Kotaku and elsewhere decrying this man’s actions as “censorship” and a “violation of author’s original vision” also express concern that by doing this, the father may be turning his daughter into a feminist.

    The horror!

  8. K-W says:

    There definitely should be more games with strong female leads for young girls to play. I commend the father for using such a mod to change “Link” to a female character. The Legend of Zelda has always been a favorite game series of mine, but it would definitely be amazing if Link were a female for once. Nintendo’s already shown diversity by making Link left-handed in a variety of games. We need more good games for younger girls.

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